Two nights ago I sat at a dinner table with four other strangers. One gentleman from the North is five years older than I am while the rest were in their 40s. What the gentleman in his 50s and I spoke about was of the way the various races interacted in the early 1970s fresh after the most devastating racial clashes in the history of Malaysia.
Those were the times when we all looked at each other as family rather than by race or religion. We went to school together and played together.
Interestingly, the gentleman is a Senior Pastor, his wife, while the rest at the table were Muslims. Apart from my wife and I, one was from Jabatan Agama Islam Selangor, the other was from PAS.
There were people of other faiths as well such as Sikh, Hindu, and the Buddhist. Church representatives and members from Sabah and Sarawak, too, were there. What surprised me was the presence of representatives from PERKASA, MAPIM and ISMA including Ibrahim Ali.
The Senior Pastor pointed out how children nowadays go to separate school and do not speak the same language. To bring about unity, children must grow up together and speak the same language. The Senior Pastor is Chinese. He still enjoys the company of his former school mates who are mostly Malay whenever he goes back to his hometown.
We were at the 2nd National Peace and Harmony Dinner organised by the Christians for Peace and Harmony in Malaysia CPHM) that was a full-house affair.
I wrote about unity not too long ago (Lighting The Wrong Path – 6 September 2016) and touched on the importance of children growing up together, speaking the same language, and the importance of understanding the Federal Constitution. While I gave the nation at least three generation before we could see some form of unity, the Senior Pastor was very sceptical. Schools have become places to divide our children according to their ethnicity – something that was rare in my days although existed. For as long as we do not unite our children, we will continue to be diversified and divided.
Chairman of the CPHM, Reverend Wong Kim Jong in his speech called for a better understanding of all faiths and races, and better unity among Malaysians.
He even went on to propose a National Mediation Council be formed to settle misunderstandings and disputes between religions and races.
In his keynote address to the CPHM, Prime Minister Najib Razak quoted a verse from the Bible:
“Blessed are the peacemakers: for they shall be called the children of God” – Matthew 5:9
He said in order for Malaysia to achieve its target of becoming a top 20 nation by 2050, as envisioned under the 2050 Transformation Plan (TN50), Malaysians must become true believers of their respective faiths as he answer to becoming a great nation lies in the teachings of every religion which promotes harmony and peace.
“To become a top 20 nation by 2050, we need social harmony and one of the ways to achieve it is through faith. Go back to your own faith and the answers are all there. You must be a true believer no matter what your religion is, whether you’re a Christian, a Muslim or a Buddhist,” he added.
Quoting a Malay proverb “Tak kenal maka tak cinta” that was said by Ibrahim Ali during a previous meeting between PERKASA and CPHM, Najib said that there is a need for the people to understand one other in order for them to appreciate and love.
“I would also like to emphasise on humility, or the importance of being humble. It means we must admit and accept our differences,” pointed Najib.
The Prime Minister also related how the forefathers discussed the social contract in the prelude to Merdeka and had ensured that although Islam is the religion of the Federation, the rights of those who practice other religions are protected in the Federal Constitution.
Therefore, understanding the spirit of the Federal Constitution is also very important to understand, appreciate and love.
I wrote at length about why the sanctity of Islam is regarded as being more sensitive in the Peninsular compared to in Sabah and Sarawak and had given the historical background to it. I even wrote about the proposed amendments to the Syariah Courts (Criminal Jurisdiction) Act, 1965 and how it would not affect the non-Muslims.
I don’t have to agree with the proposed amendments but I have to defend the rights given to the Muslims to manage their own religious affairs as I would to other religions as well.
And Muslims especially in the Peninsular have a lot to learn from and emulate values shown by the congregation of both the Masjid An-Naim and the Parish of Good Shepherd that co-exist beautifully on Jalan Pasar Lutong in Miri, as well as that of the committee of the Masjid Saidina Abu Bakar As-Siddiq in Bangsar that held a Chinese New Year open house for all at its premise.
This is what is meant by understanding the Federal Constitution in order to gain respect, appreciation and love through the respect for others.
Of course there will be those who will continue to flog the issue as long as they can all laugh at the end of it when the very fabric of society is torn apart, such as the person below:
If the person above is a Christian, she is probably a Christian because it is trendy not to light up joss sticks for dead relatives or parents. A true believer would believe in the Bible and especially Romans 13 that calls for the respect for the auhorities as they have been placed there by God.
The above verse is the same as in the Quran (An-Nisaa’ 59) that calls for obedience to authority.
Those who do not subscribe to the above are NOT peacemakers. And for Christians, they are not the children of God, but of His antithesis.
As said in the Bible:
“If anyone thinks he is religious and does not bridle his tongue but deceives his heart, this person’s religion is worthless.” – James 1:26
So you can choose whether to be a peacemaker, and if you’re a Christian be a child of God, or, you can be the child of the antithesis of God as people like the above.